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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. WARNER BATTY (10/27/78)

decided: October 27, 1978.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLEE,
v.
WARNER BATTY, APPELLANT



No. 35 May Term 1977, Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence of the Court of Common Pleas, Criminal Division of York County at No. 1505 October Sessions 1975.

COUNSEL

Robert Bruce Evanick, Asst. Public Defender, for appellant.

Daniel Wolfson, Asst. Dist. Atty., for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix, Manderino and Larsen, JJ. Roberts, J., filed a concurring opinion. Manderino, J., filed a dissenting opinion.

Author: Eagen

[ 482 Pa. Page 175]

OPINION OF THE COURT

The facts of this case may be summarized as follows:

On February 1, 1975, at a time when appellant, Warner Batty, was fifteen years of age, he and an eighteen-year-old companion, Donald Rivera, forced a young woman they had encountered along a city street to accompany them to an abandoned property in York, Pennsylvania. Although it was cold and there was no heat in the building into which she was taken, the woman was compelled to remove all her

[ 482 Pa. Page 176]

    clothing, forced to have sexual intercourse with both Batty and Rivera, and forced at knife point to commit deviate sexual intercourse. Thereafter, for a prolonged period of time, the victim was beaten, kicked, cut, and struck with both fists and a blunt instrument. The injuries caused her death.

Before they left the room where the incident took place, Batty and Rivera placed a mattress over the woman's body. Shortly thereafter, a fire was observed in the room. The fire seriously marred the young woman's body and damaged the room.

Subsequent to Batty's arrest, his counsel filed a petition to transfer the proceedings from the Court of Common Pleas of York County to the juvenile court, pursuant to the Juvenile Act.*fn1 This petition was denied after an evidentiary hearing.

Batty subsequently plead guilty to murder generally. At the degree-of-guilt hearing, a three-judge court unanimously determined that Batty was guilty of murder of the first degree and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. Thereafter, Batty filed this direct appeal.

First, Batty contends the trial court, at the degree-of-guilt hearing, erred in admitting three photographs of the victim's body into evidence because they were both "irrelevant and inflammatory."*fn2

The question of admissibility of photographs of a corpse in homicide cases is a matter within the discretion of the trial judge, and only an abuse of that discretion will constitute reversible error. Commonwealth v. ...


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